Start of OTAs offers small glimpse of what’s to come

May 20th, 2009 - 6:08 am

The Bears will participate in their first organized team activity on Wednesday and, like a kid immediately following Christmas, experiment with their new toys. What happens today, barring a freakish accident of some sort, will have little to do with what unfolds in training camp roughly two months from now, but it is when the coaching staff officially begins its “tinkering” process.

All eyes will obviously be fixed upon new quarterback Jay Cutler who has had tremendous pressure thrust upon him due to lofty expectations. The Bulls’ acquisition of Dennis Rodman perhaps is the only other Chicago trade that can rival the Cutler deal in terms of expectation and capturing the city’s excitement.

But the coaching staff will concentrate less on the departure of Cutler’s passes as it will on their arrival. General manager Jerry Angelo has shunned – almost defiantly – criticism of the team’s receiving corps and now is the time when Lovie Smith and company can determine if additional changes are needed.

Expectations are high for this year’s edition of the Bears, and with good reason. The team addressed almost every area of need this off-season. They’ve added great depth to a surprisingly stable offensive line from a year ago. They’ve upgraded their pass rush with the addition of rookie Jarron Gilbert as well as new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. They also acquired depth in the secondary through both free agency and the draft. Even the simple addition of Michael Gaines to an already stacked tight end position will improve the Bears’ short-yardage plays.

The Bears are not a perfect football team. They still have question marks at receiver, free safety, and strong-side linebacker, but the latter of the three might be addressed this week. Free agent linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who was the Rams’ leading tackler last year, will visit Halas Hall today. If there is mutual interest between the two parties, I’d say chances are good he’ll land here due to his relationship with Lovie Smith from Smith’s time in St. Louis. Adding Tinoisamoa would be yet another upgrade for the Bears and help solidify an already strong linebacking corps.

As for addressing the free safety position, Smith has mentioned Corey Graham as a possible contender to fill the void created when Mike Brown departed. Zackary Bowman, a rookie cornerback last year, saw time at free safety in the minicamp prior to the draft. Free agents Josh Bullocks and Glenn Earl also will be in the competition as well as Craig Steltz. Surely one of those players will step up and prove his worth.

There’s not as much buzz about the beginning of OTAs as there will be in late July for training camp, but it’s a start.